Advice from a fitness instructor: Where to shop for workout gear

Advice from a Fitness Instructor: Where to Buy Workout Clothes

Over the past few weeks — and after last month’s post on ways that being a fitness instructor has changed my life, especially — I’ve received a few requests to blog about where I shop for workout gear.


I’d intended to publish this last week, but wow — I had no idea just how much I had to share!

Today, we’ll talk three categories: Tops, bottoms & sports bras. I break it down into a handful of categories: By item and by brand/store. So regardless of what your “issues” are when shopping (high-waist? full-coverage? trendy? affordable?), there’s a little something here for everyone.



Let’s get to it:


In most cases, I tend to shop for workout gear on either Nordstrom or Zappos, since shipping and returns are free — even if I’m shopping for name-brands like adidas, Nike and Under Armour. But if I’m looking for something more specific, here’s where I go:


  • Old Navy is your best bet for affordable, colorful basics. But you knew that!
  • Nordstrom is where I go for name-brands, like Nike, Zella and Under Armour. They have so many options — plus, their free shipping/returns policy can’t be beat!
  • Shopbop has a really extensive activewear section, but I mostly buy from two brands here: Spiritual Gangster and Zara Terez. The latter makes really awesome workout leggings. I love her quirky designs — I mean, how good is this emoji pair?
  • Carbon38 is more of a boutique-type of online store (read: a bit more expensive), but the selection is expertly curated. Think unique, high-end looking tops with quirky quotes and capris and pants that are sure to turn heads. This is where you want to go for that “where did you get that?!” reaction from people.
  • Lululemon: While most of my Lulu clothes are SoulCycle-branded, I love their energy bras and high-waisted leggings. I check their sale section on a weekly basis.
  • Private Party is one of my favorite brands, but I purchase most of their stuff on Shopbop. While you can shop their website directly, orders take up to two weeks to ship and are all final.
  • six:02: You may not have heard of six:02 (yet), but consider them Footlocker’s little stylish sister. They have everything from Refinery29-approved workout leggings to lots of name-brand styles on sale. They have free shipping, too, so you can shop without guilt!
  • Branded Soul gear is a huge part of my workout wardrobe. I buy most of my items in the studio, but they’re also available online. (Did you hear about their warehouse sale in NYC this weekend?)
  • is great if you’re a bargain-hunter (aren’t we all) and don’t mind spending a bit of time browsing. They’re basically Zappos’s little sister sale site — and they carry everything from Nike and beyond at a steep discount.

//// BY ITEM


For me, I don’t like to spend a ton of money on workout tops. I sweat a lot and I tend to go through these fairly frequently as a result.

At the moment, my favorite riding combo is Nike’s ‘Elstika’ t-back tank top, worn with this awesome mesh sports bra (which I bought in three colors — red, black and white). There’s also a great plus-size option in the tank.


Here’s what’s up:

YOU NEED… To not spend a fortune. 
Go with… any from Old Navy ($8+). Hands down. In particular, I like the ‘burnout’ racer-back tops, shown above.

YOU NEED… Super cute, catchy options that double as conversation-starters. 
Go with… Carbon38. They have cute tanks with fun sayings like “Champagne Campaign” and “Rose All Day” ($52), but also really fun mesh detailing ($65), too. Spiritual Gangster has a lot of great options, too.

YOU NEED… Clothes that get the job done. Breathable, athletic, done. 
Go with… Anything with a “dri-fit” technology.”. Nike’s Pro Hypercool Tank is great — and on sale over at six:02 ($25).

*Scroll & click the images below to shop:




Ah, spandex. Yoga pants in public! It’s a beautiful thing, isn’t it?

In the glory days of athleisure, we need our workout leggings to double as actual apparel for errands, brunch (duh) and the like, so the biggest thing is to make sure they’re versatile, comfortable and — know you, not see-through.

For SoulCycle especially, I have everything from emoji-printed capris to plain black, high-rise leggings. Spandex pants are my daily uniform, after all.

Most of us probably want the same things — high-waist/control top leggings that aren’t see-through. Am I right?


Luckily, we have lots of options:

YOU NEED… Leggings that aren’t sweat-through or see-through.
Go with… Anything that’s s blend of polyester and spandex. Stay away from cotton!

YOU NEED… Trendy leggings that are cute enough to wear out after your workout.
Go with… Mesh paneled compression leggings, $30; or Zella’s ‘Live In’ leggings, $64. If you’re able to stretch your budget to $70+, Carbon38 is your best bet — so many options, like vibrant prints, cropped with cut-out detailing, leather and the like! Oh, and you can’t forget Zara Terez’s Emoji capris, $78.

YOU NEED… High-waist/control-top leggings.
Go with… Any of these — including ONZIE’s printed high-rise leggings ($69) or Zella’s ‘Live In’ leggings ($48), a Nordstrom exclusive. My favorite is a classic black pair of Nike’s Legend 2.0 Poly Pants ($68). Lululemon always gets the job done, too!

YOU NEED… Plus sizes.
Go with… The selection at Nordstrom or Old Navy. Zella makes a really cute printed pair (on sale)! This Hard Tail pair ($104) is freakin’ adorable, too.

YOU NEED… Yoga pants. Straight up.
Go with… Old Navy striped leggings, $20; or the selection at Carbon38 if you can stretch that budget. Namastay!

*Scroll & click the images below to shop:



Sports bras

Generally speaking, I know what works for me in the sports bra department. I’m a 34C and my go-to is usually Nike’s compression sports bra series. I also love to wear this mesh sports bra if I’m wearing a tank or going for more of a “look.” It fits true-to-size (so I purchased a 34) and I have it in three colors!

Out of all the athletic items I own — including shoes — this bra is what I get the most compliments on.


Specifically speaking: For running, SoulCycle or other cardio, I wear Nike’s classic Pro sports bra. For yoga, barre or other low-impact exercises, I like Nike’s pro ‘Indy’ bra. The Pro classic also comes in a padded option, and here is a similar, great option if you’re 36+ D or DD. If you’re good with lighter support (/are on more of a budget), I’d recommend Old Navy’s selection.

Okay, so:

YOU NEED… Better coverage/more support (like me).
Go with… Nike Pro sports bra, $30 or b.tempted mesh sports bra, $36

YOU NEED… Lighter support
Go with… Nike ‘Indy’ bra, $45; or b.tempted mesh sports bra, $36

YOU NEED… Higher coverage (closer to your neckline).
Go with… Old Navy high support racer-back bra, $20

YOU NEED… Something sexy/fun. 
Go with… ONZIE’s chic strappy-back bra, $48; or Lululemon’s “Free to Be” and “Energy” bras ($42+)

(Literally, just go with this b.tempted mesh sports bra. In every color. I’m telling you!)

*Scroll & click the images below to shop:



That’s it for today, but do let me know what I missed/what questions and concerns you have about buying workout gear (using Twitter or the comment section, below). If you liked this post and would like more that are like it, please let me know, too!

In the next week or two — by request — I’ll get more specific on where I shop for outdoor activewear, including temperature-control leggings, vest, shoes and so on.

Happy shopping, fitness friends! Now let’s put your new gear in action with me at SoulCycle.



Lydia Hudgens Photography

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